Tips For Obtaining Licenses and Permits for Your Business

Licenses and Permits You May Need

The types of licenses and permits you will need will depend on what state and county your are doing business in. You will need to contact your local city and county offices to find out what you will need.

You may need a license or permit for occupancy, sanitation, fire safety and liquor. . You should also check on zoning and sign regulations that may apply to your business and location.

The first thing you need to apply for is Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) Application,

Business Licenses - Some cities charge a percentage of your gross sales and some only charge a fee to operate your business in their city.

A food license or permit - is required for the sale of any edible substance. Each state and/or county has their own fees and regulations. It may require inspections by your local health department. For a list of state health departments, click here.

Liquor license - A liquor license is a document that allows an establishment to legally sell alcohol. You will need one if you plan to sell alcohol. Liquor licenses are regulated at the state level and sometimes at the local level. The type of license you should apply for depends on which type of alcohol you wish to sell and whom you want to sell it to. Most states require you to obtain one to serve beer and wine and a different on to serve hard liquor.

Sometimes there are no new liquor licenses being sold in an area and you would need to purchase one from an existing license holder. Licenses to sell beer and wine are usually issued for yearly and can be easily renewed if you haven't committed any offenses.

Typical offenses which can result in loss of your license or disciplinary action include selling liquor to minors or selling liquor you are not licensed for.

To get a license, you would have to apply with the state beverage control board and then you would need to post a notice at your business of your intent to sell liquor.

For a list of state liquor control boards, click here.

Sign Permit- Before investing in a sign, contact your local municipality to find out if there are any restrictions on the size, location, lighting and type of sign you can use. Also get written approval from your landlord.

Music license - Any business that plays copyrighted music whether your have live music, music on hold for your phone or play cds in your restaurant that is copyrighted without a license, you can be fined from $5,000 to $20,000 dollars. Fees for these licenses are collected by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music, Inc. and SESAC Inc.and Broadcast Music, Inc.

Fire certificates - You may be required to be inspected by the fire department before you can open for business. Your local fire department should be able to inform you of the regulations you need to follow.

Police permit - Your business may require police clearance or a permit.

Sellers permit - this is also known as a resale permit; it allows you to avoid paying sales tax on merchandise when you purchase it from wholesalers; this permit is issued through the state entity that is responsible for taxes.
Click here for a list of states and their permits.

Building permits and zoning permits - these are regulated by your local city or county planning department. Call your local building department and ask them what is required.

Laws and regulations are always changing, so it is important to join your local restaurant association and National Restaurant Association. It is also a good idea to become active in local government to keep informed about pending changes in your community.

The SBA has a page titled, WHERE TO OBTAIN BUSINESS LICENSES for your state list/license.html

For a list of state restaurant associations, click here and for to go to the National Restaurant Association web site, click here.